Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wired Crystal Sliders

I've come up against a design challenge this week whilst creating a bridal hair accessory. Brides usually have a very definite idea of what they want but I was lucky that this bride was easy going and relaxed and was happy for me to design her something elegant and sparkly that suited her petite frame and the royal blue colour scheme of the wedding. What a great brief, but with only a short lead in time to the happy day it didn't leave enough time to order the components I wanted to work with so I had to use whatever components were in stock at my local supplier.

I found some great sapphire Swarovski pear-shaped, claw-set sliders to use as accents but this has led to a few challenges trying to find ways of incorporating them into the design. You see, they are sliders and have 2 holes on either side whereas I need either a top-drilled or a centre-drilled crystal for wiring so that the crystal has a stem.

So, how do you get around the problem of the holes being in the wrong place? Well, this is what I came up with!

I've used 26 gauge non-tarnish silver wire in this tutorial but I generally find it much easier to work with 28 gauge - the finished stem is still strong but it's more delicate looking.

I've cut my wire to 25cm (10") for this piece. Adjust the length to suit your design - it will need to be twice the length of the finished piece plus you need a little extra to allow for the twisting of the wire.

Decide whether you want the point to face up or down (my example shows the point facing down). Thread the wire through the hole on one side at the pointy end. Thread it diagonally across the crystal through the hole at the round end. Move the crystal towards the centre of the wire.

Thread the wire through the opposite hole on the rounded end and diagonally across the crystal so that it comes out on the opposite side at the pointy end.

Pull the wire tight, centring the slider on the wire and making sure that the wire is sitting neatly against the top curve of the crystal. Bring the two wires together underneath the point.

Cross the wires over each other and then twist them together.

Place your thumb and index finger of the left hand just below the crystal and the thumb and index finger of your right hand approximately 15-20mm (3/4") apart.  Twist two or three times. Move your hands along the wire and twist the next section. Once you've reached the end, start back at the beginning of the wire, twisting two or three times. Continue doing this along the wire until you have a tight, even twist. You may need to repeat this step a few times.
Once my stems were all made, I curved them into a loose spiral before arranging them in the design.

The twisted wire adds a lovely texture to the jewellery and it also gives the wire strength to hold the crystal in position.

Design challenges like this really make you think outside the square and sometimes the solutions you come up with are better than the original idea. This is definitely one of those times.

I'll share another one of the other design challenges I've had with this piece in another post.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bottle Cap Fridge Magnets Make Great Small Gifts

Recently, a very dear friend became a grandmother for the first time. How delightful! Bubs and the new parents have been showered with gifts but I thought it would be nice to give the new grandma a small gift too so I whipped up a pair of fridge magnets that she can use to proudly display some of her favourite photos of bubs where she'll see them all the time.
personalised fridge magnets inspiration sheet

But this is a project that would also be great for kids to get involved in too. It can be a way of helping on older sibling adjust to having a new baby in the house. Or they can make a set for their grandparents who will love such a thoughtful, handmade gift. With close supervision, even young, school-aged children can make these!

For this project, I've used bottle caps, Magic-Glos UV resin, alphabet beads and 100s and 1000s. I've also tried this project using Alumi-UV as well as the inexpensive Chinese UV resins and they were successful too. The last 2 photos in the post are using those UV resins.

How to Make UV Resin Magnets

Start by removing the liner from the inside of the bottle caps so that you have a flat bottom to work with - or you can be forgetful, like me, and not do that! It just means that you won't have as much depth to work with and you'll need to cover the liner with a layer of resin to create a flat surface for the next step.

Curing the Resin

Place the piece under a UV lamp to cure

For Magic-Glos, you need a 9amp lamp for about 10 minutes
If you're using Chinese UV resin, use a 36W lamp
And for Alumi-UV, you need a 40W lamp for 20-30 minutes.

If you don't have access to a lamp, place your bottle cap in the sun for 10 minutes to cure it or until it is no longer tacky.
Spreading the resin and 100s and 1000s over the bottom of the bottle cap

Once it's cured, add more resin, the alphabet beads and lots and lots of 100s and 1000s.
Positioning the alphabet letters in the bottle cap

Because I forgot to remove the line, the top of the letters are sitting above the resin. That's OK if you don't mind it being a bit bumpy but you do need to make sure that all of the 100s and 1000s are covered so that moisture doesn't get in and dissolve them - especially if you live in a humid climate like me.
Alphabet beads protruding above resin surface

In this case, I wanted a smooth, domed top so I added another layer of resin to cover the beads and 100s and 1000s and then cured it.

How to Attach the Magnet

To turn the bottle cap into a magnet, I like to use a strong adhesive like 5- minute epoxy. Mix it up according to the directions (you can see how to do it properly in this post: how to mix 5-minute epoxy) and apply to the non-magnetised side of the magnet. Position it on the back of the bottle cap and you're done. Isn't this a fun and easy project?!!

Fixing Bubbles

But even when a project is as easy as this one, things don't always go to plan. I ended up with a huge bubble on the second one which made its way to the top whilst the resin was curing. By the time I discovered it, it was too late to pop it.
Bubble caught in the resin

But all is not lost. I drilled the bubble open into a big hole.... sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better!
Powdered resin shavings from drilling out the bubble

And then I filled it with another layer of resin. All fixed! You can't even see where the bubble was! Here's the finished pair of fridge magnets.
Resin and 100s and 1000s bottle caps personalised with sentiments

Why not make up a whole set?  Here's some other ideas to get you started:
  • Baby Girl/Baby Boy (good to use if bub's name is too long to fit)
  • For longer names, spell baby's name out by putting each letter in a separate bottle cap. Use bigger letters for more impact
  • Baby's birth date
  • Miracle
  • Angel
  • Precious
  • Blessing 
  • Newborn 
  • Cutie Pie
  • Bundle of Joy (do one word on each bottle cap!)
  • The name grandma will be known by 
Meanwhile, I'm pleased to report that the new grandma is delighted with her little gift and can't wait to display some photos of her darling new grandson.

Alumi-UV Resin

Chinese UV Resin

Pin this Project!
100s and 1000s UV resin fridge magnets project sheet

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs